Legislative proposal targets a portion of Beaufort's parking revenue

emoody@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 11, 2012 

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A proposal by a Charleston legislator would require the city of Beaufort and other municipalities to send 35 percent of their parking revenue from state-owned streets or property to the state's general fund.

About half of Beaufort's 412 paid parking spots are on state-owned streets and would be affected. Others, such as parking lots at the Downtown Marina or Beaufort County Library on Scott Street, would not be subject to the law.

The proposal, sponsored by state Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, was introduced Thursday and has been sent to the House Ways and Means Committee. A complimentary proposal sets the same policy for parking revenue on state Ports Authority property.

Revenue from Beaufort's parking meters and tickets are split between the Redevelopment Commission, Main Street Beaufort, USA, and the city's parking-enforcement contractor, Lanier Parking Meter Services.

After paying Lanier, setting aside reserves for new equipment and a $40,000 annual Main Street Beaufort donation, Main Street Beaufort gets 15 percent of the parking meter receipts and the Redevelopment Commission the other 85 percent, according to City Manager Scott Dadson.

Main Street Beaufort uses its share for marketing projects, such as advertising, or its new Main Street Dollars program. That program allows people to buy "dollars" at half price and spend them like actual money at participating businesses, executive director LaNelle Fabian said.

A decrease in that revenue would force the organization to get "creative," Fabian said -- for example, seeking partners to share the cost of print advertisements.

Redevelopment Commission Chairman Jon Verity was not perturbed by the proposal Friday, however, because he said his group's funding is not limited to the parking revenue.

"What we're doing, at this stage, is we come up with a list of projects and we put a dollar figure around those and discuss it with the administration and the council," he said. "...So what we've been doing for the last six months is, rather than working off of an allocated pot of money, anything we spend is essentially from our city council."

Last year, the Redevelopment Commission's cut of the parking revenue was about $70,000, according to the city. The money goes into a specific fund, Dadson said. That's the first place money comes from when the commission requests project funding from city council. Depending on the project, money from other funds could be used if there is financial overrun, he said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufort.

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